Tax Time is Good for TV

Service providers ramp up ad spending

NEW YORK: The April 15 tax filing deadline is around the corner, which got Nielsen wondering how the annual event affected ad spending. The TV metric firm compared how tax service companies spent their ad dollars in 2008 with the previous year's spending.

Tax preparers spent $220 million on advertising last year, up 11 percent from the year before, Nielsen said. More than one-third of the total--$76.9 million--was spent on cable TV. Spot TV followed with $40.5 million, then network TV, with $35.7 million.

More than half--$125.8 million--was spent in the first three months leading up to the April deadline. The next highest period was 4Q, with 17 percent or a total of $36.9 million spent. During 3Q, tax preparation firms spent 12 percent of the year’s total ad expenditure, or $25.6 million.

Spending by the top five advertisers in the tax services category totaled $170.9 million for 2008, a 7 percent increase from 2007. H&R Block was the biggest, though it’s year-over-year spend was flat at around $89 million. American Tax Relief was next with $28 million, a 97 percent increase over 2007. Jackson Hewitt spent nearly $27 million, down eight percent. JKH Holding Co. spent $19 million, down 19 percent. Taxmasters rounded out the top five with a spend of more than $7 million, an 88 percent increase over 2008. -- Deborah D. McAdams